By Kimberly Carroll, ibelieve.com
To the lonely momma aching for her village,
I see you. I hear you. I am you.
Where I’ve Been
My husband is in the military. In six years of marriage, we have moved seven times. In the past year alone, we have lived in 4 different states.
Being Mom to two amazing little ones is an absolute joy! But y’all, I am aching for my village.
Oftentimes I hear people say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” What happens when you have no village? Or your village is thousands of miles away and you long for a local community to fill the void?
Two months after giving birth to my first-born, we moved across the country. I had just lost one of my best friends to cancer. I suffered from crazy post-partum anxiety. I knew absolutely no one except for my husband in our new town, and now I had a tiny human relying on me to supply his every need.
If ever I needed a community, this was the time.
My husband’s job required him to work around the clock. Meanwhile, my son had me up every hour for the first six months of his life, and every two hours until he turned one.
Sleep deprivation is no joke! Nothing in my life has made me feel like I’m going insane faster than trying to function on four hours of constantly interrupted sleep, day in and day out, for a solid year. Add onto that persistent loneliness, grief and anxiety. My emotions were all over the map and many days I felt like a total mess.
Somewhere in my dazed and worn out state, I tried making time to invest in friendships. With blurry eyes, I hosted brunches, dinners and baby play dates. I put what little energy I could muster into building some sense of community.
But so many days, the thought of having to work at building new friendships was enough to bring me to tears. I could hardly find the time to shower, how was I supposed to find time to build up a village? The exhaustion was so overpowering, I could hardly think straight.
Over time, friendships formed and things gradually became easier to manage. Then, just when I began feeling less alone, PCS season arrived and we moved again. Twice.
Where I am
Fast-forward to today. I now have two kids, am settling into yet another new town, and once again have a baby who keeps me up at all hours of the day and night.
The exhaustion has doubled and I am once more faced with the choice of intentionally building community or sitting back on the sidelines. Most days, it feels easier to hide away in the safety of my own home. At least at home showering is optional! Rejection isn’t a threat. I can just be myself, not worry about what other people think, and focus on soaking up time with my kids.
Besides, I tell myself, I can totally handle this motherhood thing on my own (Ha! If only).
But here’s the thing. Even if I can get by pretty well most days on my own, my kids need more than me. And I need more than my kids.
Moms, our kids need community just as much as the rest of us. They need friends who will walk through the challenges of life with them and see them through to the other side. They need other adults besides their parents who they can trust to pour Godly wisdom into their lives. They need parents who are refreshed, encouraged and supported. Having moms who are chronically burnt out from trying to manage everything alone will not serve our kids well. But having mothers who model healthy relationships and who build supportive communities around them will serve our kids tremendously.
Thankfully, God never asked moms to be all things to their kids (despite how much we might try). Nor did he create us to live in isolation.
He did, however, create us to live in relationship with one another. Rather than instructing us to stay in, he commanded us to go out and be his love in action.
What’s even better? He already established a village for us—the Body of Christ. We are all called to unite within the Body, to lock arms and be an encouragement to one another.
Our need for a village is not a sign of weakness. It’s part of God’s design. And what better village to help us raise our kids than the hands and feet of Jesus? Who better to lock arms with than a community of people who embody unconditional love, undeserved grace, and eternal hope?
We should in no way limit our community to those within the church; but isn’t it awesome that, no matter where we live or how many times we have to start over, we automatically have a family to join arms with?
Tired Momma, you’re doing an incredible job. Your strength is a beautiful testament to the power of God at work within you.
Building Your Village
But what if we lonely mommas come together as a church to help lift some of the burden off our weary shoulders? What if we sit with one another, give each other the freedom to exhale, and promise to walk together on this road called parenthood? What if we choose to step into the places in each other’s lives where we wish our biological families could be, offer each other times of rest for our burnt out bodies, and surround each other’s kids with love through the good times and the bad?
I know it’s terrifying to put yourself out there. I know it’s exhausting to invest in relationships when you feel sucked dry. But without community to share the weight of our struggles, our exhaustion will only grow. Our loneliness will continue to build, and eventually our ability to balance it all will collapse—it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when.
So let’s agree now that we can’t do it all. Let’s be intentional about cultivating a village, no matter where we live, no matter how often we move, no matter how we feel. Let’s stretch out our hands to new faces and put in the work to build authentic friendships. Let’s go to the mom groups that feel entirely too cheesy and commit to being fully present. Let’s choose to make our churches and our homes places where women can be their raw and honest selves. And on the days when we’re too burnt out to invest in relationship with others, let’s give ourselves grace and try again tomorrow.
Kimberly Carroll is a military spouse, mother of two, and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill. She has a heart for the weary and broken-hearted, holds tightly to her eternal hope in Christ, and wants nothing more than for her life to be an outpouring of God's never-ending love to those around her. On her blog, Kimberly discusses mental illness, grief and the importance of never giving up. Follow her blog at https://kims88.